Ways and Means contenders pony up for GOP campaign arm

Florida's Vern Buchanan, Missouri's Jason Smith and Nebraska's Adrian Smith are vying for powerful post

Retiring House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady, left, with Rep. Vern Buchanan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Retiring House Ways and Means ranking member Kevin Brady, left, with Rep. Vern Buchanan. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted March 16, 2022 at 3:42pm

Reps. Vern Buchanan and Jason Smith on Wednesday said they’re each committing seven-figure sums to House Republicans’ political arm, hauls that could bolster their campaigns for the top GOP spot on the Ways and Means Committee.

The pledges came during a National Republican Congressional Committee meeting. Buchanan announced his commitment in a release Wednesday morning; Punchbowl News reported Smith’s contributions, which his staff later confirmed.

The committee’s current ranking member, Kevin Brady of Texas, is retiring at the end of the year, and the departure of the previous heir apparent — former California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, who resigned to head up former President Donald Trump’s media company — opened the race more widely.

Smith, currently the Budget Committee’s top Republican, was the latest to jump into the race after eschewing a Senate bid.

[Rep. Jason Smith opts out of Senate bid, will run for Ways and Means slot]

Buchanan, 70, and Adrian Smith, 51, have edges over Jason Smith, 41, in seniority on the panel, which has jurisdiction over all legislation impacting federal revenue, including tax, trade, Social Security and some Medicare spending. But fundraising, party loyalty and personal relationships are likely more influential factors in deciding who gets the post.

The announcement from Buchanan’s campaign Wednesday said he told House Republicans that he expected a March 26 fundraiser at his Sarasota, Fla., home to bring in $1 million for the NRCC.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and NRCC Chairman Tom Emmer are both slated to be at the event, according to Buchanan’s campaign. He’s expecting to raise $500,000 on his own and another $500,000 from fellow Republicans in the Florida delegation.

The announcement noted Buchanan’s candidacy for the Ways and Means role, saying he’ll keep raising money for the GOP to take the House majority. His campaign tallied his total fundraising for the NRCC this cycle at $1.5 million.

According to Jason Smith’s staff, the Missouri lawmaker raised $500,000 for the NRCC in the past two weeks, doubling his contribution this cycle to $1 million so far. He’s contributed to more than 60 House members and candidates and hosted around a dozen events for other members, raising more than $100,000, and he’s still sitting on another $1.5 million in cash on hand.

Nebraska Rep. Adrian Smith is currently the ranking member on the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee. His staff didn’t provide updated fundraising totals. According to Federal Election Commission reports and data compiled by Opensecrets.org, Smith through Dec. 31 had raised about $590,000 this cycle through his campaign and leadership PAC; spent about $330,000 on donations to GOP lawmakers and candidates, as well as NRCC contributions and member dues; and had about $1.1 million in cash on hand.

“Rep. [Adrian] Smith continues to go above and beyond to support the Republican team through party fundraising and direct giving to candidates,” an aide to the congressman said. “He has always been a consistent champion for the Conference and remains focused on firing Nancy Pelosi as speaker and advancing our America First agenda with a strong Republican majority.”